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Organic Gardening

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The Vegetable Seeds Have Arrived

Heirloom Vegetable Catalogs

The garden and seed catalogs started arriving in my mailbox several weeks ago and are still showing up. I finally had a chance to peruse them and made my selections for this year. Of course there are seeds available at local garden centers and nurseries, and each year they are getting a better selection than they used to have, but catalogs still offer a much wider array of choices. Those choices are starting to include more heirloom varieties, which are my preference. Many of the newer hybrids have been bred for keeping/storage qualities, disease resistance, and quantity, but very often don't have the exceptional taste of the old-fashioned heirlooms.

This year's garden, much like years past, is going to have a lot of heirloom varieties that I ordered from the various catalogs. I ordered so many seeds a couple years ago that I only ordered a couple of varieties last year and used up the leftover seeds from previous years. My seeds get stored in my wine refrigerator, which helps them stay viable longer than leaving them at room temperature. Some seeds will be directly sowed into the garden beds, while others will be seeded indoors in the next few weeks and transplanted to the garden in mid to late April.

This Year's Choices

This year, I thought about the various veggies that we (my husband and I) eat a lot of, and those we only eat occasionally. Those that we don’t eat often, will be purchased at the local farmer’s market. For example, my husband is diabetic, which is controlled with his diet, so we don’t often eat potatoes or corn and leave those items for special occasions. Those veggies that we eat often will be a part of this year’s garden and include this lengthy list of heirloom varieties:

Cowpea – California Blackeye
Okra – Harlow’s Homestead, Edna Slayton’s Candelabra, Louisiana 16” Long Pod, Eagle Pass
Leek – Carentan
Onion – Bronze D’Amposta
Radish – Early Scarlet Globe
Carrot – Shin Kuroda 5 Inch
Beet – Pronto
Snow Pea – Oregon Sugar Pod II
Summer Squash – Pattison Golden Marbre Scallop, Fordhook Zucchini
Eggplant – Rosa Bianca
Cauliflower – Erfurter
Broccoli – Waltham 29
Fennel – Florence
Swiss Chard – Rainbow
Cabbage – Glory of Enkhuizen
Lettuce – Beleah Rose
Collards – Georgia Southern
Beans – Calima Bush
Pepper – California Wonder
Tomato – Pink Brandywine, Green Doctors, Comstock Slice and Sauce, White Wax
Winter Squash – Table Queen, Bush Buttercup, Waltham Butternut, Blue Hubbard

Over the last couple of years, in addition to selecting the seeds I want to plant, I have also been planting some perennial fruits. Many of the catalogs offer a great selection of plants in containers or as bare roots depending on the species. My perennial selections have included yellow raspberries, June-bearing and ever-bearing strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, goji berries, honey berries, kiwi berries, passion fruit, and figs – all planted in either raised beds or large containers.

2016 Seed Catalogs

I receive many different catalogs and have not tried all of them, but I do have some favorites. My most recent catalogs include the following:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds claims to be the world's largest seed catalog and features over 1,500 varieties of rare, non-GMO seeds with beautiful photographs and tasty recipes throughout.

Territorial Seed Company offers a great selection of vegetable plants and seeds, many organic selections, some unusual varieties, and a plethora of handy tools, supplies, etc.

Seeds of Change features a large selection of certified organic vegetable, flower and herb seeds.

Pinetree Garden Seeds & Accessories includes offerings of seeds with non-GMO and heirloom designations, plus symbols to identify sun/shade preferences.

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, which includes a nice selection of gourmet and heirloom veggies, flowers and herbs.

Gurney's has a vast selection of seeds and more.

Burpee includes a nice array of vegetable, flower and herb seeds and plants.

Seeds N Such offers a huge selection of tomato seeds and growing supplies.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds is an employee-owned seed company and one of the original signers of the “Safe Seed Pledge”.

Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply offers a huge selection of organically grown bare root fruit trees and vines, seed potatoes, garlic, and more.

The Natural Gardening Company is the oldest certified-organic nursery in the United States.

Select Seeds offers a nice selection of rare heirloom varieties of flower seeds.

In addition to the above catalogs, the Off-Grid Info website offers links to over 100 heirloom seed suppliers. Hopefully this list can help get you started on figuring out and ordering what you want to grow in your vegetable and flower gardens this year.

Read all of Micki Brown's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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